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Southern California Parking Lot Maintenance Tips

Keeping a parking lot well-maintained in Southern California is no simple task. There are several environmental factors that work to degrade your parking lot faster and make it less appealing for those who use it. Everyone wants to visit clean, tidy parking lots and our Southern California Parking Lot Maintenance tips can help you provide that.

Whether your parking lot is visited by your staff, customers or tenants, it’s a necessary asset on your property. Just like your electrical system and your plumbing, you need to keep your parking lot well-maintained in order to avoid having to replace it altogether.

While you may think of parking lot maintenance as just resealing and filling up potholes, there are many more steps you can take to keep your parking lot whole and clean. Most of this work is about combating the natural forces that can harm your parking lot.

In Southern California, this includes saltwater, sand, extreme heat, sudden rainfall, marine birds and lack of humidity. This guide will tell you how you can strategically use parking lot maintenance to protect your lot from these forces and save you money in the long term.

How Beaches Effect Parking Lots

Those who own beachfront properties benefit from the beautiful views and the calming sound of ocean waves. Those who visit your parking lot may love the beach views but may be disappointed to find it marred by sand and saltwater. These two forces have detrimental effects on the asphalt and the painted lines in your parking lot, but you can limit their effect.

Those who live in colder climates want to avoid using rock salt on their parking lots because melting and re-freezing water can open up cracks. We don’t have much freezing weather in California. Instead, research has revealed that the salt that the ocean brings in has a different effect on our asphalt than rock salt.

Ocean mist brings in salt molecules. When the mist hits the hot pavement, the water evaporates, leaving behind crystalline salt. When driven on or moved by the wind this small layer of salt erodes the surface of your parking lot. It also raises the softening point of asphalt, which is the temperature at which asphalt becomes more liquid-like. This makes the asphalt more vulnerable to damage extreme heat.

Of course, this thin layer of salt will damage the vehicles parked in your lot, as well as your own building. It’s similar to how rock salt ruins vehicles and other property in colder climates.

The sand from the beach has a similar effect. When driven on or moved by the wind it erodes your asphalt and can strip your paint lines right off. Sand can also make your parking lot uncomfortable to navigate, or just leave the impression that your business doesn’t keep your property well maintained. Therefore, it’s critical to have a plan to handle salt and sand in your parking lot.

How to Maintain Your Beach-Side Parking Lot

You can use a few different techniques to limit your parking lot’s exposure to sand and salt.

Barrier plants: One permanent solution is to plant some barrier landscaping, made of tall, thick plants. These will block the salt water and the sand from entering your property in the first place. At Universal Site Services we offer plant selection for your landscaping, as well as installation and maintenance. We can help you choose the right plants to better protect your ocean-side parking lot.

Power washing: While not a permanent solution, power washing is quick and effective. Power washing can move both the sand and the thin layer of salt off your pavement. Most properties don’t need power washing treatments too often, and it will likely reduce the amount you spend on repairs.

car parked outside shop in southern californiaHow the Sun Effects Parking Lots – Southern California Parking Lot Maintenance

The blazing California sun is not kind on our parking lots. On the hottest days of the year, asphalt swells up and can crack. When cooler weather arrives it shrinks back down, sometimes cracking and causing potholes. In California, where the nights can be much cooler than the days, your asphalt may shrink and swell daily, which causes a lot of wear and tear.

The sun has other deleterious effects on your parking lot. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation breaks bitumen down. Bitumen is the primary ingredient in asphalt. Researchers have found that UV rays make bitumen more hard and brittle. That makes it more likely to crack and crumble under the weight of vehicles and even foot traffic.

Therefore, you can keep your parking lot whole longer, and prevent having to fill potholes, by protecting it both from the heat and from UV rays.

How to Maintain a Parking Lot in Full Sun

You have a few Southern California Parking Lot Maintenance options to help protect your parking lot from the sun, making it easier and cheaper to maintain in the long run.

Add shade: It may not be possible to add shade to large parking lots, but any section that you can shade will be better protected from the negative effects of the sun. Plus, your customers and staff will appreciate the shade, as it keeps their vehicles a little cooler. You can create shade in your lot with tall plants or with umbrellas.

Power washing: That thin layer of crystallized salt that forms on Southern Californian parking lots lowers the softening temperature for asphalt. This makes it more likely to ripple and swell in high heat. By occasionally removing that layer with power washing, you make your asphalt more heat-resistant, which may reduce its likelihood to crack.

Sun-resistant sealant: While sealants can’t protect your asphalt from the heat, they can limit it’s exposure to UV radiation. There are many sealants available on the market, some made of tar, rubber, and acrylic.

smoke from smokestacksHow Pollution Effects Parking Lots

There are a few different kinds of pollution going on in your parking lot. Of primary concern is the trash that either blows into your lot or is left there by your customers or staff. Not only in trash unsightly and off-putting to your customers, but it can also actually increase the environmental damage your parking lot suffers.

Trash left in your parking lot can absorb water and block its drainage. Sitting in the water, especially salt water is one of the worst things for your parking lot. Trash tends to collect in lower areas, which are already vulnerable to water damage. Discarded trash can also help mold and grime make your parking lot home. So, having a plan to collect that trash is essential. Regular parking lot sweeping can take care of this for you.

Parking lots can also contribute to a new kind of pollution, heat pollution. By absorbing heat and then releasing it back after the temperature drops, asphalt surfaces contribute to the Urban Heat Island Effect. This phenomenon keeps cities warmer than they should be. There’s also much more to learn about parking lot pollutants.

How to Manage Pollution and Trash in Your Parking Lot

You probably have a plan to sweep up trash, but in the busy summer season, it can be a lot harder to get around to this task. Our day porter services are the solution you’re looking for. Our team removes all of your litter and does much more, including:

Cleaning, hand picking and disinfecting
Restroom maintenance
Spill clean up
Change and reline trash receptacles
Clean the trash receptacles themselves
Remove Graffiti and Cobwebs
Wash windows
Dust mullions
Clean and maintain dumpsters

You can have consistent trash control that helps your parking lot stay beautiful, and helps reduce its maintenance costs. Plus, we do it all with environmentally-friendly equipment so you know you’re making the right choice to lower your parking lot’s environmental impact with this Southern California Parking Lot Maintenance tip.

What about the Urban Heat Island Effect? Your main options to reduce your parking lot’s ability to absorb and release heat are to lighten your parking lot, so it reflects heat, or to add a green area nearby. Plants cool the air around them and prevent your asphalt from absorbing and releasing as much heat.

Universal Site Services can create and build a landscape that reduces the heat impact of your parking lot. Choosing the right location for this greenery, and the right plants can make them much more effective at reducing the heat in your parking lot. With a little green space, your parking lot will also be more appealing for your visitors.

seagull getting into trash in southern california parking lotHow Marine Birds Affect Parking Lots

Another natural force you’ve likely encountered in your parking lot is birds, especially marine birds like seagulls. They can make maintaining your parking lot much more challenging. First, they leave behind acidic droppings that can harm your asphalt. They can also get into your trash, try to raise their young on your property, or harass your visitors. Preventing birds from taking over your parking lot is important to prevent damage and keep your property a comfortable space.

While you’ve likely noticed that the droppings birds leave behind can damage your visitor’s cars and make for a very unpleasant environment, you may not realize that they have an effect on your parking lot too. Bird droppings contain high amounts of uric acid, which can damage asphalt. Uric acid has low levels of solubility in water and will not be washed away by a gentle rain. Instead, it sticks around on your parking lot, eating into your asphalt and any sealants you may have applied. Plus, bird poop can spread disease, so it’s important to have a plan to remove bird droppings from your property.

How Do You Protect Your Parking Lot from Birds?

There are many ways to protect your parking lot from birds and to reduce the damage bird can do to your parking lot, including:

Power washing: If you have bird droppings on your property they need to be removed quickly to prevent the spread of disease. Power washing is an effective method to remove bird droppings and prevent them from eating into your asphalt.

Less powerful methods may not remove bird droppings, especially if they have dried.

Allow for drainage: Birds are often drawn to puddles, where they can drink and bathe. Regularly filling pothole so they don’t collect water will make your lot less attractive to birds.

Day porter services: The most common birds you’ll face as a property owner in Southern California are gulls. Gulls are opportunistic carnivores, which means they scavenge for meat, and sometimes french fries, from the most convenient source. If your property has a lot of litter or abandoned food, gulls will come to view your property as great hunting grounds and spend more time there. Consistent cleaning from a day porter service, like ours, is an important step to deter birds and prevent them from damaging your property.

Prevent people from feeding gulls: Research from the Commercial Real Estate Development Association found that gulls tend to gravitate to parking lots where people feed them. If you sell food or have a food truck nearby, this problem can get very frustrating. On average, visitors to these parking lots fed the gulls once per hour. Erecting signs asking people not to feed the gulls, and speaking to those who do can stop the feeding and therefore encourage the birds to find better food sources.

How Dramatic Rain Effects Parking Lots

Anyone who owns a property in Southern California needs to keep their eye on their drainage. While it doesn’t rain often here when it does, it pours. Your parking lot needs a proper drainage system in order to keep it from turning into a lake during the heavy rains.

Asphalt is water-proof, but not forever. If you have standing water on your parking lot, it can damage your asphalt. Further, if water can’t leave your lot quickly enough it can promote mold growth, spread grime and spread pollutants across your property. In fact, rainwater that hits your pavement will heat up, and hot water runoff can affect the environment, killing beneficial bacteria, plants, and animals. So, you need a plan to allow water to drain from your lot quickly, even during extreme rain.

How to Manage Storm Water in Your Parking Lot

If your parking lot doesn’t drain well after a big rain, there are a few different things you can do:

Day porter service: Many parking lots that have adequate drainage are clogged up with trash and litter left behind by visitors.

Plant drainage: Green spaces can absorb excess water. By placing one on the edge of your parking lot you can better control stormwater and make your parking lot a bit more welcoming for visitors. It’s best to partner with experts, like those at Universal Site Services, to be sure your green area will properly absorb water. You need the right soil, plants and to place the green space in the right area.

Power washing: If your parking lot is developing mold or grime, power washing can remove both. We may also use power washing to remove stains from environmental pollutants like oils which would otherwise be washed into the ocean or other natural areas during rain.

New drainage system: If keeping your existing drains clear doesn’t work well enough and you’d rather not add green spaces to absorb the water you may need to add a new drainage system to order to deal with the water. Again, you’ll want to deal with an expert to be sure your new system can accommodate all of the water your parking lot needs to drain.

More Tips to Maintain Your Parking Lot in Southern California

It can be much more challenging to manage and maintain your parking lot during the busy season in Southern California but our Southern California Parking Lot Maintenance tips will help. Everyone from amusement parks to restaurants will see higher traffic and that will put more strain on your parking lot. It can seem like a full-time job to protect your parking lot from the sun, sand, salt, trash, and water. That’s why Universal Site Services offer complete parking lot maintenance and cleaning services, so you can get back to running the rest of your business.

Talk with us today to find the right combination of services that can keep your parking lot better maintained. Cleaning, power washing, adding plants and removing trash can all make your parking lot a more appealing place for your guests. Of course, it can also keep your asphalt from being damaged, limiting how often you need to seal, repair and re-pave it. The overall benefit for your business is reduced maintenance costs and potentially more customers who find your business is a pleasant place to visit.

Thank you for reading our Southern California Parking Lot Maintenance tips. Contact us at Universal Site Services to get personalized services that can completely care for your parking lot, plus your landscaping. We service all of SoCal including parking lot sweeping in San Marcos, Irvine, Santa Barbara, and much more.